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Seems to me if I was in their boat, I'd change the server API to require some sort of passive token in order to get a response, push an update at the App Store(1), and force all legitimate users to upgrade. Maximum downtime, one week. The .ipa hackers/leakers will have to get into an arms race with the main company by putting new revs out every week.

(1) along with code in the app to make it either highly annoying or completely unplayable unless you upgrade if it detects from the server that an upgrade is indeed available.

That seems like a poor use of time compared to making the service scale, which is something you'd probably need to do anyway if you expect to get more legitimate users. And it you don't expect to get more legitimate users then maybe ongoing development really doesn't make any sense.

My way: 5 minutes, $0. Other way: >5 minutes, >$0.

An arms race (your description) is not actually 5 minutes, even if it somehow remains a case of simply revving every week.

And my point was that you can't get out of making it scale for your paying customers anyway, unless you never expect to get them. So your way is however much effort your way takes plus however much effort my way takes.

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